year sees the start of the European release of Star
on DVD. Seven box sets will be released over the rest of 2004
and partway through 2005. The Region 2 DVD packaging of the
brand has been very different than the Region 1 releases.
Darren Rea looks at the origins of the European packaging
of the Star
Media's ST:TNG box set design for the US market
reflected the look of the characters' uniforms
Home Entertainment's ongoing DVD release of its Star Trek
franchise has seen the company employ different strategies
in different markets. For the US release of Star Trek:
The Next Generation (TNG), Star Trek: Deep Space
Nine (DS9) and Star Trek: Voyager AGI Media
employed the use of 14 panel DVDigipacks that incorporated
seven clear trays with pockets. The company also used foil
stamping to help add a premium appearance to the packaging.
for the European release a totally different form of packaging
was employed which incorporated injection moulded ABS cases
that housed the DVDs in clear Digistack trays. Not only has
this packaging been extremely successful throughout Europe,
but it has also been a hit with fans across the Atlantic -
American Star Trek fans have been purchasing the European
versions in order to own the "better" packaging.
originally commissioned London-based design consultancy, Feref,
to look into developing a packaging solution that would provide
shelf standout, as well as promoting the Star Trek brand
as a high quality product.
Behling, creative partner at Feref, stated that re-launching
a TV series that had already been released on VHS was a challenge.
"You have to give the consumer a compelling reason to buy,"
said Behling. "With DVD you often get some extras on the discs,
but Feref has been developing ideas for sometime to demonstrate
that the packaging itself provides the opportunity to make
a product unique and 'collectable'. TNG gave us the
ideal platform to bring these concepts to commercial reality."
European design for the DVD release of ST:TNG
Behling added that there are two markets in the world for
entertainment: "America... and the rest of the world." There
has also been a shift in the market. Around five years ago
about 50% of the worldwide revenue from theatrically released
movies came from America. That's changing and Behling states
that that figure now sees America with a declining 40% share.
been working on Star Trek for about 11 years," said
Behling. "On an international platform we've been steering
the marketing from this office. It came to a peak about three
years ago when Paramount said they wanted to release TNG,
DS9, Voyager and finally the original series.
They came to us and said: 'You've been working on this brand
for some time now, how do you think we could market and launch
the first season of TNG on DVD?'
DS9 box sets used the same moulds as ST:TNG
why did Paramount go for a different style of packaging for
the European market? Chris Kinsella, marketing director at
Feref, said: "One of the key things that came out of the research,
and what we know of Trekkers in Europe, is that they are a
relatively loyal fan base and also they are also interested
in the collectable nature of the products that they buy into.
In the States you haven't got such a hardcore audience. With
the number of channels they've got you can probably see an
episode of Star Trek at any time. So, it's interesting
to see a lot of hardcore American buyers purchasing from Europe
so they could get the better box."
of the high price point, it was decided not to scrimp when
it came to presentation. There was a budget, but within that
budget Feref wanted to source the optimum materials.
"When we looked at DVD packaging for box sets, especially
three years ago when this launch began, there wasn't that
much variety out there. It was mainly just cardboard packaging
with slipcases and we wanted to break the mould and use plastics,"
said Behling. "We were quite astonished at how affordable
it was to do that - as long as the numbers were up and as
long as we designed it so that we came up with a generic concept."
pack design took on the appearance of a starship's medkit
to the complexity of the job AGI Media Packaging Europe worked
in conjunction with Feref to ensure that early design concepts
could be produced in three dimensions. The original design
used for the TNG boxes has remained the same for the
DS9 and Voyager packs. The tooling and moulding
of the box has remained constant. What has changed is the
décor on the front of each pack.
Butcher, sales director at AGI Media Packaging London, said:
"This job for Feref was one of the most challenging that we
had ever come across. Although we were working from a design
that looked superb, we had to produce a pack that would meet
an aggressive price point."
In addition to the box, AGI produced a bespoke Digipak for
the TNG collection. The special Digipak has seven DVD
Digilok trays, requiring AGI's facility in Birmingham to alter
its automatic tray placing machinery in order to produce the
of Seven: a Voyager box set
used the Digipak and Digistack and both of those are compiled
by machine," said Behling. Digipak is a very common form now
and every printer uses them. Digistack, which is basically
putting together clear trays and taping down the sides, has
now just come on line. But to place the discs in, that still
has to be done by hand.
special design feature of the Digipak is that it shows a vista
of outer space when it is opened out. To add to the collectibility
of TNG, Feref has designed the Digipaks so that when
all seven editions are placed together they will show the
generic pack has served the Star Trek brand well and
will continue to do so until Voyager has been released
at the end of this year.
benefit to using plastics is that it is a very robust material
to use. Standard cardboard packs get tarnished easily in transit,
or once on the retailer's shelves. This not only reflects
badly on the brand, but also causes a number of dealer problems
that may see them having to discount the damaged boxes to
get rid of them, or there may be return issues.
DS9 packs were designed to look out of this world
you look at the Amaray box it's made from polypropylene,"
said Behling. "There's nothing wrong with that, but it's very
flexible. We looked around at other products on the market.
We ended up looking at ABS plastic which is very durable and
only way the boxes could be produced in ABS was by injection
moulding. A lot of research and development went into the
tooling and Feref sourced a high end company and worked with
them to get everything right - right down to the hinging.
As long as you don't try and force it back on itself, deliberately
attempting to break the hinges, Behling states that it should
last a life time.
injection moulding brought with it another problem. How could
a uniform silver colour be achieved over the packaging? One
of the possible solutions was to inject a silver flitter into
the plastic. But, while this would give a silver/grey appearance
to the plastic it didn't take into account the problem of
flow lines in the production process.
look of the TOS outer packs is based on the series'
the injection goes in it is incredibly hot material," said
Behling. "The pressure that it goes in at is something like
500 tonnes per square inch. Because it has to set quickly,
very cold water is injected around the tool. Half of the skill
of producing the mould is to produce the ducts that will take
the cold water around the piece of solid steel. And the most
efficient way of cooling means that you can make more boxes
per minute, which helps to keep the cost down." In the end
they decided to spray the box - the same process that is used
for creating mobile phones.
A lot of the work that went into the ongoing release of the
Star Trek packs will have a wider implication across
the DVD market. "At the moment we are just finalising the
product with our clients for the Christmas release. Kinsella.
"From the brands we are working on, I think this is going
to be the year of premium, plastic packaging."
what have Feref got up there sleeves for the launch of Star
Trek: The Original Series on DVD? They are staying tight
lipped on this at present, but Behling simply commented: "Watch
thanks to Greenroom
Home Entertainment is releasing the entire series of Star
Trek: Voyager on DVD in seven box sets between 03 May 2004
and 02 May 2005.
Star Trek: Voyager seasons 1-7 by clicking here
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine seasons 1-7 by clicking
Star Trek: The Next Generation seasons 1-7 by clicking